NCAA

For Jok family, Penn-Iowa a long way from Sudan

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For Jok family, Penn-Iowa a long way from Sudan

Tonight at the University of Iowa, two brothers will play against each other in a Division I college basketball game.

On its own, this is an achievement few families can match.

Now throw in the fact that another one of their brothers will be playing for a high school state football championship just a couple of hours away, and it becomes even more surreal.

And when you consider that just 10 years ago the Jok family -- among them Penn senior guard Dau Jok and Iowa freshman swingman Peter Jok -- escaped from war-torn Southern Sudan after their father, a general in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, was murdered … well, tonight’s athletic festivities in Iowa can be described only as a remarkable testament of courage and determination.

“It’s incredible,” said Dau, shaking his head in disbelief, shortly before departing for Iowa with his Penn teammates. “It’s a blessing, man.”

“It’s crazy,” Peter told reporters in Iowa. “I never thought I would get to play him. But it is a great opportunity at the end of the day, so I’m just looking to take advantage of that.”

While the youngest brother, Jo Jo Jok, a defensive end at Dowling Catholic in West Des Moines, will be playing in a title game at the University of Northern Iowa, the main event will be in Iowa City, where the Joks expect at least 40 family members to be in attendance for the Iowa-Penn hoops clash at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (7 p.m., Big Ten Network).

For Dau, this is an especially meaningful game as it marks a long-awaited return to Iowa, the state where his mother brought the family in 2003 after they fled Sudan and made pit stops in Rumbek and Uganda.

Dau didn’t know anything about basketball when they first settled in Des Moines but began to play the game at a local YMCA to avoid the gang life that plagued some other Sudanese refugees. And when he learned basketball could be a path to an education, he started to take the sport more seriously -- and very nearly accepted an offer on the spot from former Penn head coach Glen Miller.

“We came here for a better life,” Dau said. “And that better life is through education.”

Dau has yet to become a true impact player in college, having played in a reserve capacity during his first three seasons, as well as in the first three games of his senior year. But his impact at Penn has been measured in other ways -- as a campus leader who devours all aspects of academia and recently applied for a Fulbright Scholarship, as an activist who began his own foundation for Southern Sudanese children and as a basketball captain who’s always the first one off the bench to greet his teammates during timeouts.

Why does he care so much about Penn basketball when he doesn’t play that much and has so many other big things happening in his life?

“Freshman year when I wasn’t playing, I had to decide: You can be really mad on the bench and be a cancer, but what does that do?” Jok said. “That doesn’t change the coach’s position. That doesn’t make him play you more. So I was like, ‘If I’m here, I’m going to try to have an impact and cheer on the guys who are playing. It’s not their decision I’m not playing.’”

As for tonight’s game, Jok said, “Whether I play 30 seconds or 10 minutes, Coach [Jerome] Allen knows I’m going to go out there and bust my butt.” He’d do that for any game, of course. But he has a lot riding on this one after dishing out some friendly trash talk with his brother.

“It started in the summer and I was like, ‘We’re going to give you guys one of your few non-conference losses,” Dau said. “That was the extent. To be honest with you, there’s no need for it. I don’t think they’re going to be ready for us. Their first four games have been blowouts. So I don’t think they’re going to be prepared for us.

“I need the W. The rest of my life, I’m going to be able to call him and just say, ‘We beat you guys.’”

The competitive streak between the two brothers goes back a long way. Dau has broken game systems when he plays video games with Peter. And he still boasts that he has a winning record against him playing one-on-one.

But Dau will also be the first to tell you that Peter has long since surpassed him on the basketball court, where he was once one of the nation’s top high school players and is already averaging 9.8 points per game through four games at a Big Ten school.

“I’m the least athletic in my family,” Dau said. “I like to joke about that.”

But even though Peter is the better player and the Hawkeyes -- coached by former Penn guard Fran McCaffery -- the better team, Dau is confident that the big brother will prevail in this one. He also plans to make sure his family members will be pulling for the underdogs from Philly. Although when asked if Penn can pull the upset, Dau said, “I wouldn’t call it an upset.”

“I’m telling people if they’re going to sit on my side, they’ll have to wear something Penn,” Dau laughed. “They can cheer for individuals. But when it comes to teams, they better cheer for Penn. After all, we’re the better school.”

But no matter who wins, when the final horn sounds, Dau will shake hands with Peter, walk back into the visitors’ locker room and think about their old lives in a different world, when thousands of spectators cheering them on in a college basketball game was not even tangible enough to be considered a dream.

“It’s crazy where we were and where we are now,” Dau said. “Every once in a while, I’m reminded how far our journeys have taken us.”

Ryquell Armstead runs for 6 touchdowns in Temple's win over Houston

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Ryquell Armstead runs for 6 touchdowns in Temple's win over Houston

BOX SCORE 

Ryquell Armstead ran for 210 yards and six touchdowns and Temple outlasted Houston with a 59-49 win on Saturday night.

Armstead finished a touchdown shy of the school's single-game TD record Montel Harris set against Army in 2012.

Temple (6-4, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) forced Houston to three-and-out on its first possession. Ty Mason blocked Dane Roy's punt on fourth down, Braden Mack returned it the Cougars' 8-yard line and Armstead ran it in two plays later from 3 yards out. D'Eriq King was sacked and fumbled on Houston's next possession and Temple recovered. The Owls drove 66 yards in 12 plays and Armstead crashed in from 4 yards out to score.

Temple built a 28-14 halftime lead and extended it when Armstead ran for a 33-yard touchdown to start the third quarter. King threw for a score and ran for another, but the Owls responded with two TDs of their own for a 49-28 lead.

King passed for 322 yards and five TDs and ran for 125 yards and a score. Houston fell to 7-3, 4-2.

Trace McSorley matches Penn State record for wins at quarterback with victory over Wisconsin

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Trace McSorley matches Penn State record for wins at quarterback with victory over Wisconsin

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Trace McSorley and Penn State went back to a familiar formula Saturday — a steady diet of elusive Miles Sanders.

The resurgent running game put the Nittany Lions offense back on track, and got McSorley a milestone victory, too.

Sanders ran for 159 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, McSorley matched Todd Blackledge's program record with his 29th win at quarterback and No. 21 Penn State beat Wisconsin 22-10.

If Sanders had been irritated that his rushing totals had fallen off along with the Nittany Lions' offensive output lately, he hadn't shown it. He considers himself a patient tailback, and he channeled some pent-up energy into running over the Badgers.

"People may say that at times (Sanders) had been frustrated, but you never saw that," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "Would we love to rush for more yards week in and week out? No doubt about it."

Penn State (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten, No. 20 CFP) racked up 200-plus rushing yards in each of the first six games but had averaged just 120 over the last three. Meanwhile, McSorley -- a key part of the team's rushing attack -- has been dealing with a sore right knee.

McSorley completed 19 of 25 passes for 160 yards and a TD. He appeared to hurt his left knee in the first half but got some relief watching Sanders juke through the Badgers with his shifty running style.

"Something that I don't think he gets enough credit for is the balance he has," McSorley said. "He's able to take on a hit and shake it off, maintain his balance and keep going."

The Badgers had no balance with starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook out with a concussion.

Jonathan Taylor ran 20 times for 185 yards and a touchdown for Wisconsin (6-4, 4-3), but backup quarterback Jack Coan completed just 9 of 20 passes for 60 yards with two interceptions and was sacked five times. The Badgers have lost three of their last five games.

"We've got to execute better," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. "We knew coming in, it's a good defense."

DeAndre Thompkins caught a touchdown pass for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions held the Badgers to 125 yards in the second half.

Jake Pinegar made three field goals for Penn State while Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone added the Badgers final points midway through the third quarter.

Wisconsin broke through first when Taylor ran 71 yards to the end zone on the Badgers' first possession.

But McSorley led back-to-back scoring drives to give the Nittany Lions the lead for good. He hit Thompkins for a 14-yard touchdown pass to cap an eight-play drive, then led the offense just past midfield to set up Pinegar's 49-yard field goal.

Sanders added a 1-yard touchdown run midway through the second.

Pressure galore
Beaver Stadium was more difficult than usual for a quarterback to make his first career road start Saturday. Freezing temperatures were made worse by a constant wind powered by gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

At times, it looked like Penn State's defensive line was playing that fast. Shareef Miller and Wisconsin native Robert Windsor each turned in two sacks, and Coan was hurried or hit a handful of times.

Young wideouts
The Nittany Lions have been looking for more options in the passing game all season. Aside from KJ Hamler, who was targeted on six of Penn State's first 12 plays, another consistent playmaker has yet to emerge.

But a handful of underclassmen saw their most extended playing time yet. Jahan Dotson, Cam Sullivan-Brown and Justin Shorter combined to play season-high snap counts and contributed a combined four catches for 51 yards.

The takeaway
Wisconsin: The Badgers were limited on offense without Hornibrook. Coan attempted just four passes in the first half and completed two for 10 yards. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions were able to load up the box and keep Taylor from getting into the end zone following his first big run.

Penn State: Offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne stuck with the running game and fed Sanders the ball, going back to what worked for Penn State earlier in the season as McSorley deals with a sore knee. The offensive line was solid, and the strategy worked well. It was Sanders' first 100-yard rushing game since Oct. 13.

Up next
Wisconsin travels to Purdue.

Penn State visits Rutgers.